I Am a Damn Fine American

There’s a part in Field of Dreams that always makes me cry. Sports movies do this to me. I know I’m supposed to cry at movies where women die of cancer on the same day or something, but I usually get bored with those about 1/4 of the way in and never get to the sad parts. Or, if I do, I’m busy griping about how the women in the movie don’t look like any of the cancer patients I’ve ever seen, and I ruin it for everyone else in the room.

Sports movies destroy me, though, mostly the ones about baseball. My grandfather played minor league ball for a short time in the 1940s, and always had bleacher seats to Cardinals games. He always bought me ice cream during the games, too, which would have been great except he got this hard, icy strawberry ice cream instead of soft serve but I’d sit there and eat it, pretending like it was really good while he drank and shouted at the game. I could keep score in the program by the time I was four. For all of you non-U.S. readers, I’m sure this sounds all very stereotypically American, and I guess it was, which is why I’m aware that it is silly to cry at sports movies. You know how in A League of Their Own, where Kit mows Dottie down at the end and the whole stadium erupts? I lose it. Yeah, I’m aware of the below (the Little Corner of Moron is especially fond of this scene, to the point where an arched “EVELYN!” is all it takes to make us laugh), but I can’t help it.

In Field of Dreams, Shoeless Joe Jackson comes to Ray’s field for the first time and hits a few balls into the corn (“right, you’re a low ball hitter”). When Ray asks him what it feels like to play again, Joe says “I did love this game. I’d have played for food money. It was the game…the sounds, the smells. Did you ever hold a ball, or a glove to your face? I used to love traveling on the trains from town to town. The hotels…brass spittoons in the lobbies, brass beds in the rooms. It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot…I’d have played for nothin’.”

Gets me every time. It gets me even more than Frank Whaley turning back into Burt Lancaster to save the little girl, and even more than Ray finally having a catch with his father. It’s better than Annie convincing the school board not to bans books. Just ruins me. I clearly wasn’t one of the Eight Men Out or anything, and I wasn’t nearly good enough to travel all over the place to play, but for a significant period of time, I played soccer every day for hours a day. I don’t know how to describe it to anyone who didn’t play sports like this, but it was life. I’d played from preschool all the way up through high school, and during my senior year, I got a really awful coach and I quit. I haven’t played since then and now – more than ten years later – I still get twitches in my legs when I watch other people play. And I’m going to freak when the World Cup Final comes on later today, so if anyone was planning on calling to talk about nothing during that game, I’m sorry, but I don’t have time for your bullshit. I have some re-living to do.

About erineph

I'm Erin. I have tattoos and more than one cat. I am an office drone, a music writer, and an erstwhile bartender. I am a cook in the bedroom and a whore in the kitchen. Things I enjoy include but are not limited to zombies, burritos, Cthulhu, Kurt Vonnegut, Keith Richards, accordions, perfumery, and wearing fat pants in the privacy of my own home.
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1 Response to I Am a Damn Fine American

  1. secretsouttamyhead says:

    I do the same thing when I watch swim meets! I get caught up in the rhythm of the strokes and breathing and I find myself bobbing my head or breathing in time. It’s pretty crazy. Unfortunately, swim meets are televised about as often as soccer games… However, I do have a child to live vicariously through… So I got that going for me.

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